I receive a lot of requests for TV buying advice, and a significant chunk of them are from people looking to buy a TV for less than Rs. 30,000. Although a few years ago this much money might have bought you a 43-inch full-HD option at best, the last year or so has seen the segment grow much more competitive. It's now possible to buy a decent big-screen 4K HDR TV for around Rs. 30,000, with brands such as Vu, Xiaomi, Thomson, Kodak, and TCL all in the fray.
The latest entrant into this competitive segment is Hisense, with its new range of smart televisions. Prices start at Rs. 11,990 for a 32-inch HD model, but today we're looking at one of the televisions in the A71F range. The 50-inch Hisense 50A71F is priced at Rs. 29,990, runs Android TV 9 Pie, and features a 4K HDR LED screen with support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It sounds pretty great on paper, but how does the Hisense 50A71F 4K TV perform, and is this the best television you can buy for less than Rs. 30,000? Find out in our review.
Like most other options in the sub-Rs. 30,000 segment for televisions, the Hisense 50A71F looks basic, yet entirely functional and to-the-point, keeping the viewer's focus on the screen. There are narrow borders all around the screen with a slightly thicker bottom, and a small module protruding from just below the Hisense logo for the indicator light, power button, and IR receiver. Although the Hisense TV is slim at the edges, it gets considerably thicker at the middle and bottom, where the bottom-firing box speakers are.
Soon after unboxing and setting up the Hisense 50A71F television, I noticed strong similarities to another television I recently reviewed, the Vu Premium 4K Android TV (Review). In addition to the design of the TV itself and its stands, even the remote is almost identical. The TV's codename, displayed while setting up the Google-related features, was also similar: Hismart TV. This suggests that the Vu television could be a rebadged version of this Hisense model, and the similar specifications and pricing also point to this being the case.
The Hisense 50A71F television has a 50-inch Ultra-HD (3840x2160-pixel) LED screen, with support for HDR up to the Dolby Vision format. At Rs. 29,990 this isn't the most affordable TV with Dolby Vision, but it's definitely among the more affordable options available today that support the 12-bit HDR format. There's also support for Dolby Atmos audio for the television's 30W box speakers.
At just a little over 10kg, the Hisense 50A71F doesn't weigh too much and was quite easy for me to wall-mount myself with standard VESA sockets and brackets. Attaching the table stands is also quite easy, although you'll need a wide enough table to be able to safely place the television on since the stands are affixed near the corners of the TV. There are three HDMI ports (one supports HDMI ARC), two USB ports, an Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity, a 3.5mm stereo jack, an antenna socket, and an optical audio out (Toslink) port.
There's 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for apps and app data that you can use through the Android TV interface, and the television is powered by an unspecified quad-core processor. Interestingly, 5GHz Wi-Fi is also supported on the TV for better connectivity with compatible routers, and Bluetooth is supported for both the remote and for audio connectivity with speakers or headphones.
As mentioned a little earlier in the review, the Hisense 50A71F's remote is practically identical to that of the Vu Premium 4K Android TV; the small differences include the obvious Hisense logo at the bottom, the bottom row of buttons having different functions, and a proper Disney+ Hotstar logo on the corresponding hotkey. The power button, hotkeys, D-pad, and Android TV navigation keys are all in the same places.
The remote runs on AAA batteries, and feels pretty good to hold, but the lack of dedicated playback keys was a minor inconvenience. The D-Pad and navigation keys are all too close and sit flush with each other; this often meant that I'd hit the wrong button, particularly when watching TV in the dark.
The remote is Bluetooth-enabled and has a microphone for voice commands. It paired easily with the TV. Once this was done, I could use it for most functions without pointing it at the TV, and this also enabled the use of Google Assistant on the TV.
As with other Android TV devices, the Hisense 50A71F has built-in Chromecast functionality, and links with other Google-enabled smart devices such as IoT products, smart speakers, and Google Assistant on smartphones and tablets that are tied to the same Google account. It was quite convenient to use my Google Home speaker to control the TV, as well as use the TV to control IoT appliances such as a smart bulb, air purifier, and robot vacuum cleaner using the TV's remote.
With no significant limitations in terms of apps, the Hisense 50A71F offers the full, unfettered Android TV experience. Some apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar come preinstalled, along with Google's default built-in apps such as YouTube and Google Play Movies. You can access the Google Play Store to download any of the over 5,000 apps supported on the platform, and all the ones I tried worked to their full potential as well as that of the TV.
Dolby Vision content played fine on Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar were able to stream supported 4K and HDR content without any trouble. Google Assistant was able to fetch content from compatible sources as well. We've described the features of Android TV in detail many times before, and the Hisense 50A71F offers the same reliable and functional experience as we've seen on many other Android TV devices in the past.
The Hisense 50A71F has a quick wake option, and starts up almost instantly most of the time. When rebooting or turning it on after the main power has been switched off, it takes around 45 seconds to start up. The full Settings menu can be accessed from the Android TV home screen, but the TV does usefully allow for some picture and sound settings to be accessed even when watching content.
Although Hisense is new to India and not a lot of people know about this brand, the company has been in the business of making televisions — including white-label televisions for other brands — for a while now. With the launch of televisions under its own name in India, Hisense is looking to tap into the affordable space, and the 50A71F is a particularly good start at making inroads into the affordable 4K TV segment.
This 50-inch model has an Ultra-HD screen with Dolby Vision HDR support, and as expected, performs best when playing Dolby Vision content. To be clear, this is an affordable LED TV and doesn't quite match up to the deep blacks and vibrant colours on offer with better screen technology, but Dolby Vision does help bring out the best in the Hisense 50A71F.
The picture was bright, colours looked accurate and realistic, and contrast was quite good. Bright zones on the screen looked considerably brighter, particularly some of the daytime scenes in the second season of Umbrella Academy. A particularly impressive Dolby Vision trick is ensuring that bright and dark zones can coexist well in the same frame, and the Hisense 50A71F pulled this off capably enough.
Where LED TVs usually falter against QLED and OLED TVs, and where the Hisense 50A71F in particular isn't very good, is in reproducing black levels. Blacks never quite looked black, instead giving away a hint of grey that even Dolby Vision's superior encoding couldn't fix. Watching the Snowpiercer TV series and Night On Earth on Netflix — both largely set in dark environments — was less than ideal, even for an LED TV.
With Dolby Vision and HDR10 content, colours were also handled decently enough by the TV, offering an acceptable level of accuracy. Although Dolby Vision definitely looked better, HDR10 content wasn't too far behind in quality. Bright, well-lit scenes in Our Planet and The Mandalorian looked stunning, but darker scenes didn't look quite as attractive as I've seen on premium LED TVs such as the (much more expensive) Sony X95G.
Disney+ Hotstar has slowly started rolling out 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision content in India, and I noticed that Avengers: Endgame is available to stream with HDR10 support. It definitely looked impressive, and was brighter and more vibrant than I'd ever seen it before, but colours were just a bit muted when compared to good Dolby Vision content such as The Mandalorian or anything from Netflix's massive catalogue.
There isn't a lot of 4K standard dynamic range content available on major streaming platforms at the moment, as services are now delivering an increasing list of content in HDR. So to test 4K at its most basic level, I went back to the recently cancelled Patriot Act. While good tuning can get decent performance out of SDR 4K content on the Hisense 50A71F, colours still seemed a bit odd, particularly skin tones which seemed to have a tinge of yellow. The TV does usually get things like sharpness and basic motion on point, although fast motion did give away some artefacts.
The vast majority of streaming and DTH content these days tops out at full-HD resolution, and the Hisense 50A71F is suitably equipped to handle this. The 50-inch screen of this TV is neither too big nor too small for most spaces. and From a reasonable viewing distance, Modern Family in full-HD looked fine in terms of sharpness, thanks to good resolution upscaling. That said, the same problems I saw with SDR 4K content when it came to colours and motion were a bit more evident.
Motion and artefact issues were visible, but weren't really a big problem at higher resolutions considering the price of the Hisense 50A71F. However, stepping down to standard definition content, including animated Youtube videos and NDTV 24x7 through the NDTV app for Android TV, showed a fair amount of motion and detail issues. I've yet to see an affordable 4K TV get this right, and the Hisense 50A71F can't quite offer as good performance with SD video as it does with top-quality streaming content.
Although the sound quality of the Hisense 50A71F isn't exceptional, it's definitely workable for everyday use. The 30W box speaker system can get quite loud when it needs to, and the tuning is set to ensure that everything can be heard clearly. Voices are clear, and music and background scores are detailed enough. Sound effects can sometimes be a bit boomy and loud, particularly in action scenes, forcing you to reduce the volume a bit. However, for the most part, this TV gets sound right.
Although there are many big brands operating in the affordable television space, only a handful offer premium features such as 4K screens and HDR support for less than Rs. 30,000. Many such models have not been available consistently over the past few months, so Hisense's arrival in India is a good thing for buyers. The Hisense 50A71F is a decent television for the Rs. 30,000 asking price, offering Dolby Vision HDR, acceptable picture and sound quality, and a reliable and unrestricted smart TV experience. If you have access to good streaming content, you'll be happy with what this TV has to offer.
Colour performance with standard dynamic range content is less than ideal, there are motion issues visible across resolutions, and standard definition content simply does not look good on the Hisense 50A71F, but these are issues we've seen on most televisions in this price segment with similar features and specifications. It's far from the picture quality we've seen on more expensive options such as the OnePlus TV U series or TCL C715, but the Hisense 50A71F is considerably more affordable, and offers enough to justify that price.
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